Shehbaz orders emergency steps to deal with Hunza flooding

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday ordered the authorities concerned to take emergency steps to deal with the situation created after the flooding in the lake formed above Shisper Glacier, Hunza.

A massive glacial lake outburst flood occurred in Hunza district’s Hassanabad village Saturday, sweeping away the Hassanabad bridge on the Karakoram Highway.

The flood disrupted the drinking and agricultural water system and affected two powerhouses together with the collapse of the Hassanabad bridge. As a result, one part of Shahrah-e-Karakoram has also been affected. PM Shehbaz Sharif directed the authorities concerned to ensure the safe transfer of people from the flood-affected areas. He also told the federal agencies to fully assist the Gilgil Baltistan government with the supply and provision of food, medicines, and other necessities to the affectees.

The prime minister sought a report regarding the damages as well as a list of affectees of glacial flooding and ordered the construction of a temporary bridge for people to commute after the destruction of the Hassanabad bridge on the Karakoram Highway.

Moreover, PM Shehbaz also instructed the authorities to prepare an estimate of the damages suffered by the irrigation and drinking water system and powerhouses and directed them to restore the powerhouses of 700 and 250 megawatts on a war footing basis. “We will take all possible steps for the full relief and rehabilitation of the affected people.”

He announced that the government will bear the expenses of restoring and repairing the powerhouses. Shehbaz expressed sympathy to the affected families over their losses and ordered the provision of immediate assistance.

The Shisper Glacier started discharging 5,000 cusecs of water owing to premature melting, leaving Hunza and Gilgit disconnected.

The flow of water, however, was reduced by Sunday morning, Hunza Deputy Commissioner Usman Ali said. The official said that a temporary bridge will be built after the water completely drains out of the lake.

Speaking about the damages caused by the flooding, Ali said that a jamaat khana was partially damaged while the drinking and agricultural water system has been destroyed.

He further stated that 22 houses have been vacated and small vehicles are transported through Sharah e Nagar.

Meanwhile, Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira spoke to the Gilgit-Baltistan chief secretary over the telephone. The GB chief secretary briefed Kaira on the Hassanabad bridge collapse in Hunza.

Kaira issued directives to make all necessary arrangements and said that steps should be taken on a priority basis to restore land connectivity and routine life in the surrounding areas.

National Highway Authority General Manager Mehmoob Wali says that the bridge installation will be completed in the next 15 to 20 days to restore immediate connectivity on the Karakoram Highway, “while it will take six to seven months to build an alternative concrete-made bridge”.

He said that the repair work on the affected section of the Karakoram Highway would also start immediately.

 

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